The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets mostly ceded the spotlight at the trade deadline.
Then they played like they didn't need much help.
The Dodgers swept a three-game series against San Diego to take a 15 1/2-game lead in the NL West, and the Mets took four of five from Atlanta to move 6 1/2 up on the Braves in the NL East. That was after the Padres made serious waves at the deadline by acquiring Juan Soto, and the Braves added Jake Odorizzi and Raisel Iglesias.
Los Angeles wasn't all that active. The Dodgers took Joey Gallo off the Yankees' hands but otherwise seemed content to lie low. Then they beat Soto, Manny Machado and the Padres three times by a combined 20-4. Los Angeles has won eight in a row and 30 of its last 35.
The Mets were also fairly quiet at the deadline. Of course, they made a pretty big recent addition internally when Jacob deGrom returned to the mound for the first time in almost 13 months. New York lost his first start but won his second — when he took a perfect game into the sixth inning against Atlanta on Sunday.
The Braves have recovered nicely from a mediocre start, and at times they've seemed poised to overtake the Mets. But New York won two of three at Atlanta in the middle of last month and got the better of the Braves again this time.
If deGrom and Max Scherzer are healthy and Edwin Diaz keeps rolling, the Mets can certainly feel good heading into any playoff series.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, has won 17 of its last 19 meetings against San Diego. The scary thing about the Dodgers is they can still improve. Justin Turner, for example, is expected back this week. And Los Angeles has gone on this extended run without Walker Buehler, who hasn't pitched since June 10.
What the AL Central and NL Central lack in dominant teams, they may make up for in excitement. Minnesota leads the AL Central by one game over Cleveland and two over the White Sox. That could be a wild race, since none of those teams is assured a wild card.
St. Louis has won seven in a row and leads Milwaukee by two games in the NL Central. The Cardinals took three straight from the New York Yankees to end the week. The Brewers have lost six of seven and are 1 1/2 games out of a wild card.
Who was the last team to win its division by more than the Dodgers' current 15 1/2-game margin?
LINE OF THE WEEK
DeGrom was impressive against the Braves but ultimately didn't make it out of the sixth, so this honor goes to Miami's Sandy Alcantara, who threw his third complete game of the season in a 3-0 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday night. Alcantara allowed six hits and a walk and struck out three.
COMEBACK OF THE WEEK
The Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-3 in the opener of Thursday's doubleheader after trailing 3-0 in the seventh. St. Louis scored three in the seventh on homers by Nolan Gorman and Paul Goldschmidt and a sacrifice fly by Lars Nootbaar. Then Nootbaar hit an RBI single in the ninth to win it.
The Dodgers themselves, who ended the 2019 season 21 games ahead of second-place Arizona.
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